An in depth investigation by Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper has revealed over 100 complaints by international students against Ashleigh Howe, who provided international student concierge services under the business names Student Concierge Company and Global Education Advisory.
The business offered to arrange accommodation, cleaning and airport pick up, mostly for Chinese international students. It claimed to “look after over 2000 students per year”. Students say they were charged unreasonable and unexpected fees by Howe’s businesses.
Howe was also being chased for payment by a string of creditors. Last year her business was put into liquidation and a New South Wales court ordered her to repay $689,000 to creditors. Liquidators say that she has not paid. The paper also says that people who worked for Howe in Australia and China have entitlements that have not been paid.
Liquidators believe that Howe may have left Australia.
Over a period of four years up until the end of 2018, about 100 students who sought help from Student Concierge and Global Education Advisory to find accommodation in Sydney were allegedly hit with unreasonable and unexpected fees and were chased aggressively for payment.
A tenants advocacy service in Sydney says that it had 84 cases relating to Howe’s businesses.
In 2017 a 21 year old Malaysian international student, Jien Teo, 21, stayed at accommodation in Sydney arranged by Global Education Advisory. He says that Howe attempted attempted to get him pay double his quarterly rent – $12,644 – in advance due to “currency controls in China”
In reports to creditors of Howe’s businesses, liquidators said that Howe
“appears to conduct herself as a shadow director” and “solely manages the company’s operations and financial affairs”. They noted poor financial control and records.
Liquidators have had trouble contacting Howe because they think she has been in China where, they say, she has started a new art school business targeting wealthy Chinese, called Look Learn Do. They have been unable to serve notice on her as they believe she has been in China.
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Source: Sydney Morning Herald